Wednesday, January 05, 2011

CSFF Tour - The Wolf of Tebron Day 3

"I always feel like...somebody's watching me!"
 Have you been following the discussion in this month's CSFF Tour featuring The Wolf of Tebron? If not, you're missing out on fairy tales, allegories, and how these can fit into speculative fiction. As always, Becky Miller keeps track of all the rabble and their varied posts - check it out!

If you're wondering what The Wolf of Tebron is about, my synopsis is on day 1 of our tour. Yesterday I talked about the tricky place Tebron is in marketing-wise with it being a "fairy tale allegory." I promised a review today.

Let me start off by saying that in learning more about Ms. Lakin, I can see that she is a well-read individual who has attempted an ambitious project in her Gates of Heaven series, which Tebron kicks off. She has a discussion in the back of the book that describes her desire to meld a fairy tale structure with allegorical images of God's relationship while weaving in apologetics, philosophy, and poetry.

Sounds impressive, and is certainly a lofty goal to shoot for in book.

The book starts with a prologue and then takes the protaganist, Joran, through different journeys as he seeks the Moon, the Sun, the South Wind, and the Western Sea in progression. Lakin enjoys a descriptive style, and it usually serves the story well, creating a vivid picture of the different locales - once Joran gets there. Sometimes though, the journey gets repetitious, and the description struggles at the lack of variety. Other times the action is nebulous (see p182-184), so the description is confusing. I had to skim some sections as there were gaps without a lot going on, it seemed.

There aren't a lot of characters in the book. Joran is an everyman type, and he didn't connect with me very well. A lot of his struggle in the book is internal as much as external. I know that in life we most often deal with internal strife, and it is hard to make that exciting. The other major character is Ruyah the wolf, who becomes Joran's companion throughout the journey. He is a noble creature with a unique voice, and he is the best part of the book. He is a wise mentor to Joran, and even though it would be easy to compare him with Aslan the lion, Ruyah stands apart from his Narnian counterpart. As others have noted, sometimes Ruyah's wisdom seems a little outside of Biblical standing, but he was enjoyable overall.

Do you hear laughing?

The major destinations of the Moon, Sun, etc. are personified, and this technique is used well. The Sun's mother, Sola, was very interested in knowledge, and she offered up some things like listening to specific symphonies and mentioned "rocket science," which threw me out of the fictive world of Tebron each time.

The conclusion of the book ties together various threads from the book with varying success. I felt the most emotional connection to Joran and his wife Charris at this time, but other things came across too contrived.

Overall, I obviously had a hard time with The Wolf of Tebron. I admire what she was trying to do - I just think there was so much attempted it didn't come together well. I don't like being critical, because I realize the hard, hard work it is to pour yourself into writing a book, but as Fred Warren says in his day 3 post, it doesn't work for everyone. Others on the tour really enjoyed the plot, spiritual allegory, and characters. I felt distant to it the whole time. Do check out other people on the tour to get a balanced view, and I wish Ms. Lakin much success in the future.

I think the CSFF is playing catch up a little, and there will be another tour later in January. Hope to see you then!


  1. You made good points, Jason--ones I would have made if I'd done my typical review.


  2. I enjoyed your post! :)